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    drsawzall
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Empty Shoes - 4. Chapter 4

Better to be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth removing all doubt.

Inheriting the wind

As those ten days passed us by all too quickly, I noticed we all seemed to quietly withdraw into ourselves. That none of us were looking forward to then interview was an understatement. All of us were moping around, terse in our conversations with each other and generally just unhappy.

From the kitchen I heard a commotion out in the driveway and saw Micha calling out to Evan to fill the cooler, we were headed out to Ant Island for the night. I quickly helped the boys get the coolers packed and loaded into the wheelbarrow for the trip down to the dock. Everything we would need for supper and breakfast was carefully packed in the order we would need the different items.

Grinning as I watched the boys head down the cart path, I mentally kicked myself. As a dad I should have seen such an obvious remedy for the malaise we were operating under.

If our stay up at Maple Hollow was far removed from the storms and undercurrents of the world outside these stone walls, being out at the cabin on Ant Island was further insulation from the turbulence buffeting the protective shielding encompassing us.

There was no electricity, all electronic devices were expressly forbidden except an old battery-operated transistor radio that lived on a shelf near the kitchen table. There was a weather proof box at the end of the island's dock, into that box went all cell phones, CD and MP3 players, Gameboys, and the like. The only permissible use of a cell phone was for emergencies and even then, you had to have at least one foot in the water or stand on the ice if you were using the cabin in the winter.

There were however books, board games and what had to be one of the finest collections of Classic Illustrated comic books. All of these neatly stored on shelves along with an incredible collection of Indian arrowheads and other stone tools that the rich bottom land of the farm expunged over many generations of spring plowing of those same fields.

Food was cooked at the old cast iron cookstove or out at the fire pit and there was an old soapstone sink with a hand pump, that once the frost was out of the ground, provided ample water for our needs. Bathing was done down at the dock with environmentally friendly soaps. There was an outhouse tucked away out behind the other side of the cabin far from the well. Sitting on a shelf next to the front door of the cabin, was what affectionally became known as the "Pooplight'' for those who needed to make use of the outhouse, once the sun went down. It was of course tradition for the young men in the morning to write their names in the sandy soil behind the outhouse. At the far end of the island was a rope swing attached to a giant of an old weathered pine, a gnarled survivor of many a year of storms rain, wind, and snow.

Our two days out at the cabin passed all too quickly and we soon found ourselves back up at the farm for the interview the following morning. We had decided after a robust discussion that the interview would take place not on the island but in the family's great room in the converted barn.

~~~

We were up before the rooster so to speak, all of us were not looking forward to what was to come, the intrusion on a national and international scale into our lives. Breakfast was light and afterwards we met with the technical staff who arrived early to set up and determine how we would sit in the great room. The cameraman and sound technician were nothing but gracious and did their level best to be unobtrusive as they went about their tasks. Uncle Arik had departed previously to the Hutchinson Hotel to pick up our ''guests". What was unknown to me was that Uncle Ethan had also departed as well. His destination was the Town Hall where he would pick up the six other survivors.

Shortly after Uncle Arik returned and we had gone over the basics with our interviewers we were set to begin. Once the cameraman indicated we were live, Micha stood up and began to introduce ourselves. Pointing out his parents, Uncle Arik, myself, and Evan who then rose and stood beside Micha.

Beginning, Micha spoke clearly to the camera, "I would like to thank all of you today for being here and for those on the other side of this camera, thank you for your time this morning. We are here to address and answer many of your comments, questions, and concerns.

As we all know, we are here because of a horrendous act by a couple of students who had access to firearms, access they never should have had. We can debate what the second amendment means from here to eternity, what cannot be up for debate is that 27 children out of 34 shot at our school will never have a chance to speak up for themselves here today. They will never graduate, go to college, or find a trade, serve our country, marry or have the chance to watch their children play with their grandparents. And there are those who find this war of attrition waged against us, your children…acceptable.

What happened so many months ago is not unique. Hundreds of us have died, your children are being shot and killed in their classrooms and nothing is done. Those who by any definition of sanity, should not have access to the weapons that are slaughtering us.

It is inconceivable that schools now teach active shooter drills, we do so rather than insist that these weapons be safely and securely kept. Kept away from those who would so misguidedly do us harm. Rather than address the issue, we teach avoidance. It is the epitome of insanity.

One last observation I would like to share with you are the following statistics, before I get in to the numbers. I realize that advocates from the extreme left or right will find a platform to distort, denigrate or otherwise demean, diminish, or inflate the numbers discussed today.

Reasonable people can agree to disagree, to accept the results at the ballot box and move on, either to strengthen platforms enacted by the voting public or to retrench, look at the reasons platforms introduced that failed to pass muster, reorganize, and try again.

Since 1990, 221 students, staff and others killed and 360 wounded as well.

This year, 2018…there have been 17 school shootings. There are those who will argue that these school shootings reflect a miniscule percentage of the millions of students. i*

There are those who put forth in a national debate that our neighbors to the south of us are rapists, criminals, murderers, and a danger to our country. That these folks, just as our grandparents and forefathers did what they need to do, to escape broken societies' and come here for a better life, to see their children succeed and prosper.

Yet we hear that they are infesting our country from the very highest levels of our government, that we must build a wall and only allow the select few to immigrate.

Yet far more of our children are in danger and are dying at our own hands, because we cannot enact reasonable gun safety laws and all we hear are crickets at the same high levels of our government.

We can accept and support the second amendment which enshrines the right to bear arms but…it must be coupled with uniform licensing for use in self-defense, training, or hunting. The severest penalties for misuse must be applied and time in jail a reality. Gun owners must be criminally liable for any misuse, and they must be secured at all times, in the home and in transit.

We would no more allow someone to drive a vehicle without proper training, licensing, registration and insurance, the same should go for firearms.

We are here today because 34 students were subjected to gun violence, 27 of us died because those who should not have had access to firearms were able to obtain them and use them with deadly effect.

It is far past the time to have an honest discussion on this issue that faces us…Thank you."

~~~

It is a tired cliché but…you could have heard a pin drop, the silence was deafening, only to be broken by the sight of Uncle Ethan escorting a reluctant Trent Adams down to the seated journalists and news anchors. A chair was quickly provided and he took his seat.

 

As he was seated, Uncle Arik led into the great room the six other survivors, who sat in a semi-circle alongside us, behind us sat their parents. By previous agreement the print reporter for the Boston Globe acted as a moderator. The format she explained was fully open, no questions were off limits or out of bounds so long as they pertained to the shooting at the high school.

It was a remarkable hour and a half, Becca Thomas, a 17-year-old Junior told of her boyfriend throwing himself over her as she was shot in the leg.

Robert Jenkins a 14-year-old Freshman told of losing his right hand and at the moment, all he could think of as he was shot, was thanking God as he was a lefty.

Marty Robbins a 15-year-old Sophomore spoke of his reconstructed shoulder and the number of surgeries he still faced

Sarah Essex a 17-year-old Senior told of surviving being shot on the lower abdomen, having to deal with a colostomy bag and her relief that it would soon go away.

Mary Noble a 18-year-old Senior spoke of being shot in her right buttock, her difficulties in sitting and sleeping, her nightmares and flashbacks as she witnessed the carnage.

The parents spoke and answered questions as well, they spoke of the shock, relief, and guilt that their children survived, they spoke of the aftermath they were still dealing with, the hours of therapy and counseling. That many days were a struggle which were made worthwhile on the few days actual progress was made. They were candid as to the financial burdens, the hospitalizations too numerous to mention. The daily struggles as nothing would ever be the same.

I sat there stunned as the interview evolved around us, I now understood what Micha and Uncle Arik were up to. Micha was right in his thinking and subtle deception. This day should not have simply been just about the three of us, it was and needed to be far larger than that. This clearly wasn't about Evan taking one of the shooters down, it wasn't just about saving his boyfriend. It was however something far larger than all of us, something that struck deep at the heart of our shared humanity. I am incredibly proud of the boys

The focus turns to Evan who has been sitting quietly holding Micha's hand. The questions come fast and furious. To his credit he answers all of them, occasionally reminding an interviewer that personal questions are out of bounds and to respect his and Micha's privacy.

For whatever reason Trent Adams who had comported himself respectfully and with humility, seems to lose his composure. He's hectoring Evan, questioning his sexuality, and demeaning Micha.

The next thirty minutes are powerful, in what will undoubtedly be an iconic moment in television, Trent Adams is exposed for the charlatan he is, a purveyor of deliberate falsehoods, his lies and mistruths exposed. So completely, so thoroughly he's unable to respond articulately.

Each surviving student addressed Trent Adams in turn, each taking one of his fabrications and succinctly addressing the lies, falsehoods, and innuendos. They describe the idiots, encouraged by his imbecilic ravings, that took it upon themselves to further harass both their families and themselves. They talked of having to uproot their lives and homes, of the threats and character assassination. The constant hospital visits, the therapies, both physical and psychological. Of the complete and total loss of any expatiation of privacy. As they finished, each of them had a photograph of the wounds they suffered incorporated into the broadcast and available for the print media.

Evan was the last to speak, walking over and standing near Trent Adams he thanked everyone for their time, looking directly at Trent Adams Evan asked, "Where is your humanity, your sense of decency? Have you sir, no sense of honor?

With that Evan joined his fellow survivors and left the room effectively ending the interview.

Epilogue

As expected, the interview fueled a media shitstorm, out of which Trent Adams found himself marginalized and shortly after a non-entity. He along with his show faded into obscurity. The Des Moines Register printed an editorial, that exploded nationally, calling for sensible gun safety regulations, registration, licensing, insurance, and mandatory jail sentences for non-compliance. They articulated the need to protect the rights enshrined in the 2nd Amendment with sensible regulation. At long last the needed national conversation began. Where it ends is anyone's guess.

Evan and Micha continued to thrive and are back to school in the fall. I find myself the recipient of numerous speaking engagements, most I decline. I do not want to become that broken record and find my greatest joy in life are my sons. That picture is never more an arms-length away from me and it is everywhere I go.

Thank you, Miriam. We are forever in your debt. 

2nd Epilogue-Author’s Note

I had originally written and posted this on another story site, shortly after the shooting at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. What prompted me to write this, were the reactions from some members of our media platforms denigrating those survivors. And as with the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, the notion put forward that both incidents, along with others, simply were actions by a “Deep State” plot with child actors, to further erode our basic liberties.

Coupled by a previous administration denigrating ‘certain’ immigrants who were ‘rapists, thugs, and murders, pushing the acute need to ‘protect’ ourselves, while ignoring the carnage occurring in our High Schools and society at large had me reaching for the keyboard.

I can and will support the 2nd Amendment, what I cannot support is our children and adults needlessly killing each other with handguns and assault rifles.

At some point in the far-off future, history will show how we reacted to these lies and denigrations, how will we be judged?

~

Thank you for letting have a few moments of your time as you read this story. It is a difficult subject, and understandably upsetting. You have been supportive and gracious in your comments, and for that I humbly thank you.

(*1)  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/school-shootings-database/?utm_term=.e5b7ccd8ebcb

From the Washington Post 11/30/21 by Laura Meckler

Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group, reports that nationally in 2021, there have been at least 138 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 28 deaths and 80 injuries. Of those, 89 incidents occurred this fall, nearly triple the previous high of 33 during the same period.

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security, which maintains a database of K-12 school shootings, has totaled 219 incidents of gunfire on school grounds this calendar year, not counting the Michigan incident. Of those, just eight were active shooters — the sort of school shooting that comes to mind for many people. That number is in line with data from past years.

But the 211 other incidents of gunfire have soared far above past years. That is more than quadruple most years since 1970 and almost double the prior three years, said David Riedman, lead researcher on the K-12 School Shooting Database.

Your thoughts and comments are most welcome, it you could find a moment to review it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading, it is appreciated!

Copyright © 2021 drsawzall; All Rights Reserved.
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As always, thanks for your time in reading, your thoughts and comments are truly appreciated!

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

I can understand how all of those shocking events have you the impetus to write this story. If only the same common sense could prevail in the real world. Conspiracy theorists are always easy to manipulate. Because they want to believe they are being told lies, it's too simple to get them to follow a cause. Thankfully, here in the UK we don't have shootings very often. However, even with a tough licensing system for people who own guns, safeguards don't always work. It's always horrific to find out people have lost their lives as a result of some disaffected and marginalized individual.

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A well written and articulated story, it is sad to know that it reflects actual events that have taken place in the US over many years. Fortunately here in the UK we have only had one such event. Whenever I see on our news programs that another such event has occurred my blood runs cold as I cannot comprehend how it affects the victims or their loved ones or that solid action is not taken to to try to prevent or minimalist the possibilities of it reoccurring. Politicians have a lot to answer for, the safety of innocent people especially children should be paramount. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, and to the survivors and their families and friends who have an up-hill battle to overcome the physical and mental injuries that have been suffered over the years. Steps should also be put into place to recognise those who may behave in this way and to intervene to try to prevent further occurrences of this nature, these actions and more stringent controls should go hand in hand. My prayers are with those who have suffered as a result of these tragic incidents.

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7 hours ago, weinerdog said:

After 9/11 the media talked about how some Muslims mostly teenagers but adults also have been radicalized to the point where they can't ever be reasoned with I think we have that here in the U.S.except its people who follow and believe the Trent Adams of the world.

I have heard of isolated cases of individuals being former members of terrorist organization and changing their ways but its the exception we should study how they came to realize the error of their ways.I can only wish what happened to Trent Adams in your story would happen IRL but as you said what would it take for that to happen?

Your comment is so spot on, sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy!

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1 hour ago, Mancunian said:

A well written and articulated story, it is sad to know that it reflects actual events that have taken place in the US over many years. Fortunately here in the UK we have only had one such event. Whenever I see on our news programs that another such event has occurred my blood runs cold as I cannot comprehend how it affects the victims or their loved ones or that solid action is not taken to to try to prevent or minimalist the possibilities of it reoccurring. Politicians have a lot to answer for, the safety of innocent people especially children should be paramount. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, and to the survivors and their families and friends who have an up-hill battle to overcome the physical and mental injuries that have been suffered over the years. Steps should also be put into place to recognise those who may behave in this way and to intervene to try to prevent further occurrences of this nature, these actions and more stringent controls should go hand in hand. My prayers are with those who have suffered as a result of these tragic incidents.

Thank you, I know I could not have stated it any better!!

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Knowing very little about the subject, I did some research on the shooting right after reading this chapter and it's really horrifying how much all of this is accurate. Now that we live in an era, where in addition to everything that has been said, the Internet has become a tool for trolls, bots and all kinds of entities (domestic and foreign) to purposefully stir and divide societies, there seems to be less hope than ever for solving issues like this indefinitely.

However, it was good to find out there were some legislation changes in Florida (not sure how far going), and that some media, politicians and TV personalities who made false claims received backlash, including firings and boycotts. None of this will return lives but at least it's a glimmer of hope that our societies will eventually mature.

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6 hours ago, Arch Hunter said:

Knowing very little about the subject, I did some research on the shooting right after reading this chapter and it's really horrifying how much all of this is accurate. Now that we live in an era, where in addition to everything that has been said, the Internet has become a tool for trolls, bots and all kinds of entities (domestic and foreign) to purposefully stir and divide societies, there seems to be less hope than ever for solving issues like this indefinitely.

However, it was good to find out there were some legislation changes in Florida (not sure how far going), and that some media, politicians and TV personalities who made false claims received backlash, including firings and boycotts. None of this will return lives but at least it's a glimmer of hope that our societies will eventually mature.

Thank you for your comments and thoughts, they are appreciated. Sadly, I think we've gone down a different sort of rabbit hole and I am not sure as to how we find for ourselves the best way out. 

I see so many parallels to the 1930's that I worry about our future, the misinformation that is not challenged is worrisome!

Yesterday a GOP senator tried to impugn Dr. Fauci by casting dangerous aspersions about his finances, suggesting he was playing the stock markets. Doing so before recommending different medications/treatments or advising their efficacy, before going public with that information, in order to personally profit.

This well informed senator demanded that the good doctor make available a financial disclosure and stop hiding his finances. The good doctor simply told the well informed senator, that the information he was looking for was and has always been  publicly available to anyone. After the exchange, the good doctor muttered "Jesus Christ, what a moron." And deservedly so!!    

https://news.yahoo.com/dr-anthony-fauci-reveals-why-075715594.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

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raven1

Posted (edited)

This poignant story was a difficult read, but the last chapter at least was hopeful.  The love and support in these families and their friends softens the emotional upheaval felt from the tragedies they experience. It is not surprising how Americans have become disfranchised with the media and government.  These two once honourable institutions have become corrupted by greed and power.  They have also become so polarised by money and minority influence as to be unable to make even the simplest and needed changes to protect the citizens, especially children.  This story is an impassioned plea for reason over extreme ideology.  It is so real and emotional as we become attached to these characters.  Such a skilfully written story for us to reflect upon as we look forward to a better day.

Edited by raven1
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All it takes is folks of good conscience to say it enough and a bit louder to create the beginning of change!

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A good story @drsawzall. The school shooting was a left turn that I wasn’t expecting. After the first chapter, I was expecting something more elegiac in relation to Mary Ellen, although I also had my suspicions that something unpleasant might happen to one of the boys.

Once I realised what the story was going to be about, I adjusted. The actual shooting was vividly told through the eyes of the father, trapped in his office and unable to help. I certainly felt for him, and I was totally with him in wondering desperately what had happened to Ethan.

The story of the boys’ recovery was heartening, with the support of the boys’ friends from the golf club.

The more political angle of the final chapter was a bit lost on me, I’m afraid, as I’m lucky enough to live in a country where mass school violence is a rare thing. Of course I do hear about school shootings in the US, and I’m always horrified by how easily and frequently they seem to happen. I can totally see why you felt moved to write this.

I hope, some day, an informed conversation does begin that leads to real reform.

Edited by James Carnarvon
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